Tax Freedom Day, which falls today, is cause for celebration. It marks the point in the calendar when someone’s income stops paying for their tax bill and they start keeping the money they have earned. It is an annual reminder that people who work hard and play by the rules deserve to keep their hard won earnings. It is why cutting tax has always been a priority for Conservatives.
Four years ago we inherited a tax system that was designed to be as complicated as possible. Gordon Brown’s stealth taxes doubled the revenue the Treasury raised through taxation and National Insurance. In total, Labour put up taxes 178 times, and the myriad of extra charges was as complicated as the methods used by corporate tax avoiders today – and as morally compromising. For many of those years, Ed Miliband was the lieutenant who Brown trusted to invent these schemes.
The progress that this Government has made is extraordinary. We have cut taxes in every area. 25 million people have been given an income tax cut: by raising the person allowance we’ve returned an average of £705 to people’s pockets and taken three million people out of tax altogether. We have given councils the funds required to freeze or cut Council Tax. If you’re driving a car, you’ll be benefiting from the freeze in fuel duty. If you go to the pub this evening, you can toast a Conservative Chancellor who cut the cost of a pint by slashing Labour’s hated Beer Duty Escalator. Thanks to these and other measures, Tax Freedom Day has fallen three days earlier this year than it did last year. Long may that trend continue.
Yet tax cuts have not been an ideological extra; a pat on the back after the economy started growing.